I am certain that I am like most progressives in that when I close my eyes and dream about utopia, some sort of universal health care is most definitely available. I am a thirty-something professional with more than my share of health issues and despite the fact that I have decent insurance, I still pay a significant amount of money out-of-pocket every month for prescriptions, co-pays and deductibles.
I was really interested to read fellow former Great Falls-ite Nicole Rosenleaf’s discussion of her experience entering motherhood in the Czech Republic. That post has sparked an interesting discussion among my colleagues and friends about the discussion of health care policy in the United States.
Simply put, we never really seem to have a fair discussion about it. Nicole is 100% right when she notes that, “When people defend our system, they often say that people from all over the world fly in to see our doctors and visit our health care centers, and they’re right. Rich people will always get great care in the United States. If you have money, there is no better place to be sick. But if you don’t have money and/or you don’t have insurance, it’s surely one of the industrialized world’s worst places to be ill.”
I have no doubt that I receive top care, however, I wonder if I wouldn’t be receiving similar care elsewhere and not have to watch ever-increasing amounts of my income evaporate every month as I worry about the out-of-pocket. It seems when we talk about comparing international health care, the statistics about infant mortality don’t come into play, it’s about long lines in Canada. That seems like a horror story, right? However, has anyone been to a public health clinic in the United States lately? What about an emergency room in a larger city, where people have a right to be treated no matter the income which has brought people with non-critical, but legitimate health needs to compete with dire emergencies? What about a convenience care center? These band-aide solutions to legitimate access issues seems to be just as bad as the feared lines.
When you hear about single-payer, you often hear about no choice and stories of service that sound like a 1970s movie depicting the the Soviet Union. Reading Nicole’s story, it sounds as if her experiences were anything but.
Ten years ago as I dreamed of a perfect future, I assumed that we would reach a critical mass in health care that would demand radical change. Never did I imagined that we would sustain years of double-digit inflation in health care with nothing by symbolic change.